Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pleasant surprises for Butch Davis at camp

CHAPEL HILL — With Kentwan Balmer and Hilee Taylor both drafted into the NFL, North Carolina coach Butch Davis began training camp with concerns about his defensive line.
Five days into practice, he's starting to feel a little better.

"One of the pleasant surprises is the defensive line -- their intensity, trying to develop that depth,'' Davis said Tuesday. "Marvin Austin is obviously doing a very good job, but Aleric Mullins and Tydreke Powell and Cam Thomas — all four of those guys are going to be extraordinarily instrumental to having a good rotation inside. [At] the defensive ends, E.J. Wilson had an outstanding practice yesterday. He was bigger, stronger, physicaler at the point of attack. ... Greg Elleby is doing some good stuff, so the defensive line is off to a really good start."

Other news and notes from Tuesday:

* Davis said that quarterback T.J. Yates, who had surgery on his right shoulder in December, is throwing well.
"He's not shown any kind of ill effects,'' Davis said. "So our speculation is that he went through the worst of it this past spring, and he should be fine for the rest of the fall."
The one thing Yates hasn't tried since his surgery is getting tackled. But that won't happen during training camp, either.
"We never hit Cam [Sexton] or Mike [Paulus] or Braden [Hanson] or any of the other quarterbacks in this program,'' Davis said. "They get grabbed from time to time, and they get under pressure ... but as far as taking a chance on hitting them, somebody else is going to have to run that drill, not me."

* Punters Chase Jones and Terrence Brown have been working as the new holders for field goals and extra points.
"They both have excellent hands,'' Davis said. "And the snaps — a couple of times they were three, four, five inches off target, but they were able to get the ball down and get the ball spun and give the kicker the confidence to go ahead and not worry about the placement. So that part was good."

* Junior Aaron Stahl moved from offensive guard to center during the spring, and is competing with Lowell Dyer for the starting snapping spot. "He's very very fast, he's smart, he's athletic, he's powerful and strong, and can pull and run,'' Davis said of Stahl. "And that's a plus, when your center can be that mobile."

* Senior linebacker Mark Paschal sat out his second day of practice with a mild concussion. But that sounds like the worst of the injuries so far. "We've probably got 8 to 10 kids that have got bumps and bruises,'' Davis said.

* Sophomore Shaun Draughn switched from safety to running back after spring practice, and Davis has been impressed.
"The one thing that really separates running backs is vision,'' Davis said. "Some kids have it, and some kids don't. ... He's got some athletic ability and some vision.

* The Tar Heels begin two-a-day practices Wednesday.